GIFTED AND TALENTED CHILDREN

 

Although we place high hopes for a worthwhile future on the gifted and talented youth of today, we often neglect this group. While many schools like Plainview-Old Bethpage have programs for these students, many gifted children spend most of their school day in regular classes. For large portions of their day, at school and home, they are left to their own devices.

Contrary to the popular misconceptions that they will do better without interference and that they will succeed on their own, some gifted children experience academic, social, and personal problems when they do not receive support from society and parents. Of primary importance in the recognition and the development of the special abilities of these individuals is the active support of the parent, at home and in school.

Gifted children display their abilities in a variety of ways, each unique to the individual child. In general, for most children giftedness is demonstrated by performance of tasks and understanding of concepts usually associated with much older children. Reading signs, magazines, and books, and performing mathematical computations at ages three to five, speaking complete sentences and using abstract vocabulary at age two and three-all indicate superior intellectual abilities.

The suggestions that follow are intended to help parents cope with these challenges.

Often the gifted child feels isolated from the rest of the world because of the exceptional abilities he or she possesses. Facing these feelings of difference alone can create emotional problems, disruptive behaviors, or withdrawal from the frustrating situation.

Discuss feelings of difference with the child as they arise. While we do not want to create problems when they do not exist, we should always be ready with an understanding attitude when problems appear.

Parents play an important role in the development of exceptional abilities in children, especially in encouraging a favorable attitude toward these tendencies.

Because of their heightened perceptions and sensitivities, many gifted children need an environment that is secure emotionally and stimulating intellectually to allow their abilities to flourish. Too many adults overlook their needs, however, assuming that these children already have advantages others lack. Consequently, much is left to parents to provide for the gifted. Working with the child, with other parents, and with the school, parents can accomplish this awesome, often frustrating, task.

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